Singita was wildlife paradise; most of our game drives wound up going longer than planned because we kept finding more stuff to look at. Jack’s Camp is in the Kalahari Desert, and we are here during the dry season, so the wildlife is pretty sparse. The first afternoon we spent a couple of hours to find a hyena. It was cute. Over the course of the next two days, we did manage to get a few interesting sightings.
Cheetah, hyena, and Mr. & Mrs. Ostrich, August 2017
The second morning we took a ride into the salt pans, which are large expanses of open land where the water has dried leaving behind salty soil. While they look white from the distance or air, they are just light colored soil. Rather than ride in the game drive vehicles, we took an ATV or quad bike. It was fun. You have to wear these scarves as turban/face masks to protect yourself from the sand and dust, just like a real desert dweller on a motorized bike.
Sally learns geology from Harold, August 2017
Bushmen, August 2017
In the afternoon of the second day, we went for a walk with a group of Bushmen. Bushmen are the original settlers of Southern Africa, and have traditionally been hunter/gatherers. Since Botswana has outlawed all hunting, and because they are gradually moving into fixed villages, their way of life and culture is inevitably changing. Jack’s has hired two dozen of them to live near the camp and give us this walk. It was fairly interesting. About a dozen – men, woman and two babies – led us into the bush. Along the way they explained traditional medications they extract from plants and even elephant dung, firemaking, clothing, etc. They played a game analogous to rock/paper/scissors around a fire they built rubbing two sticks together.
These people were real bushmen. But they are employed by Jack’s to put on a little show for us demonstrating their traditional way of life. They actually live in a village 700 km away, and spend several weeks at the camp as part of a rotation.
Meerkat scout, August 2017
The third morning was probably the highlight of the stop – we rode out to watch the meerkats wake up. Meerkats are members of the mongoose family found in the deserts of Southern Africa. They live in burrows in a group called a “mob” (1). Every morning, the mob sends a lucky scout out to see if there are any lions or hyenas around. If they don’t hear back from him, they suspect bad news. Since we aren’t lions or hyenas, the scout reported back and a dozen or so came out of the burrows and stood in front of Sally looking around for a while.
Sally and the Meerkats, August 2017
From here, it was back to Jack’s, a quick packing and then off to the airstrip to head for Vumbura.
(1) They exhibited no mob-like behavior while we were there.